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Philosophy of a Public Liberal Arts University


Public liberal arts colleges and universities focus on exemplary undergraduate teaching and student learning. They differ from other colleges and universities in the public sector in size, scope and emphasis on student-centered education. Rather than attempting to be all things to all people, they focus on providing a liberal education. With a moderate size, usually fewer than 5,000 undergraduate students, they offer the intimacy and intellectual atmosphere of private liberal arts colleges while maintaining the public mandate to meet the economic workforce needs of the state. 

Undergraduate programs are diverse, but most degrees are awarded in arts and science fields, including humanities. When professional undergraduate programs are offered, they include a heavy liberal arts foundation. Limited graduate programs similarly are built upon a strong liberal arts undergraduate preparation and are tied to the state’s market economy.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Emphasis on providing the quality, values and virtues of a private liberal arts college at a lower cost

A highly selected undergraduate student body with a selected number of graduate programs

A strong emphasis on transformative, active learning experiences in and out of the classroom

A focus on student outcomes, with particular attention to the development of:

  • Strong communication skills (oral and written)
  • Critical and analytical thinking skills
  • A broad understanding of global issues
  • An appreciation for diversity
  • An ability to integrate information across disciplines
  • Application of knowledge
  • A foundation for making moral and ethical decisions
  • Civic responsibility

A commitment to creating an intimate learning environment characterized by high quality student/faculty interactions through

  • Small classes
  • Innovative pedagogy
  • Internships and service learning experiences
  • International study experiences
  • Faculty/student collaboration on scholarly/research projects
  • Lectures, concerts, art shows, field experiences
  • Senior culminating experiences

A rich culture of traditions that link students to the university beyond graduation

A commitment to meeting the needs of the state by producing graduates who enter the workplace as leaders and thinkers

  • Accessibility through affordability
  • Limited professional and graduate master's level programs built on a liberal arts foundation
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